15th (Scottish) Infantry Division

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15th (Scottish) Division
British 15th (Scottish) Division Insignia.png
Active 1914–1919
1939–1946
Country United Kingdom
Type Infantry
Engagements Battle of Loos
Battle of the Somme (1916)
Battle of Pozieres
Battle of Flers-Courcelette
Third Battle of Ypres
Operation Overlord
Commanders
Notable
commanders
Frederick McCracken(1915–1917)
Oliver Leese (30 Jan 1941 – 17 Jun 1941)
Philip Christison (17 Jun 1941 – 14May1942)
D C Bullen-Smith (14 May 1942 – 14 Aug 1943)
Gordon Holmes MacMillan (27 Aug 1943 – 5 Aug 1944)
Colin Muir Barber (5 Aug 1944–1945)

The 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division was a British Army division in both the First and Second World Wars.

First World War[edit]

The division was a New Army unit formed in September 1914 as part of the K2 Army Group. The division moved to France in July 1915 and spent the duration of the First World War in action on the Western Front. The division fought in the Battle of Loos, the Battle of the Somme (1916) which included the battles of Pozieres and Flers-Courcelette, and the Third Battle of Ypres.

44th Brigade[edit]

  • 8th (Service) Battalion, Seaforth Highlanders
  • 9th (Service) Battalion, Gordon Highlanders (until January 1915)
  • 10th (Service) Battalion, Gordon Highlanders (merged with 8th Gordon Highlanders May 1916)
  • 8/10th (Service) Battalion, Gordon Highlanders (from May 1916 until June 1918)
  • 9th (Service) Battalion, Black Watch (until February 1918)
  • 4/5th Battalion, Black Watch (from June 1918)
  • 1/5th (Buchan and Formartine) Battalion, Gordon Highlanders (from June 1918)
  • 7th (Service) Battalion, Queen's Own Cameron Highlanders (from January 1915 until June 1918)

In May 1916 the 8th and 10th Battalions of the Gordon Highlanders merged to form the 8/10th Battalion.

45th Brigade[edit]

The 7th Battalion of the Royal Scots Fusiliers was an original member of the brigade. It merged with the 6th Battalion in May 1916 to form the 6/7th Battalion.

46th Brigade[edit]

In May 1916 the 7th and 8th Battalions of the King's Own Scottish Borderers merged to form the 7/8th Battalion.

Second World War[edit]

The division was a second line Territorial Army Division, the duplicate of the British 52nd (Lowland) Division and served in the Second World War, where, among other actions, it was part of VIII Corps under Lieutenant-General Sir Richard O'Connor in Normandy and it ended the war on the Elbe River.

Order of Battle[edit]

44th (Lowland) Infantry Brigade[edit]

46th (Highland) Infantry Brigade[edit]

227th (Highland) Infantry Brigade[edit]

Supporting units[edit]

Operation Epsom[edit]

Men of the 8th Royal Scots move forward past a Humber Scout car of 31st Tank Brigade during Operation Epsom, 28 June 1944.

Operation Epsom was a British attack intended to outflank and seize Caen in France during the Battle of Normandy during the Second World War. It did not achieve its overall objective but forced the Germans to abandon their offensive plans and tied most of their armoured units to a defensive role.

To be certain of anticipating any German attack Epsom was launched on 26 June. Although held up on parts of the front by infantry of the 12th SS Panzer Division Hitlerjugend, the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division and the 31st Armoured Brigade gained four miles on their left flank. Further to their left the 43rd (Wessex) Infantry Division also gained ground.[1]

On 27 June, after repulsing small armoured counter-attacks, the 15th (Scottish) Division gained more ground and captured a bridge over the River Odon. The 11th Armoured Division passed through to capture Hill 112, a mile to the southeast. This deep penetration alarmed the German command and General Hausser was ordered to commit his units to contain and eliminate the Allied salient. German armoured counter-attacks from 27 June–1 July were repulsed and the foothold over the Odon was consolidated. German losses, particularly of armoured vehicles meant that the possibility of a German counter-offensive was eliminated and held the bulk of the remaining German armour in Normandy in the east around Caen, while US troops further west captured Cherbourg.[2]

Hill 112, Operation Jupiter[edit]

The British forces included the men of the 15th Scottish Division, 11th Armoured Division, 43rd Wessex Division and 53rd Welsh Division. Principal among the units fighting on Hill 112, and the tanks of 7th and 9th Royal Tank Regiments, plus numerous other units. Approximately 63,000 men over a period of seven weeks fought on and around Hill 112.

The first battle for Hill 112 was fought at the end of Operation Epsom, when the tanks of 11th Armoured Division broke out from a bridgehead established by the 2nd Argyll and Sutherland Highlanders at Tourmauville. Hill 112 was only an intermediate objective on the way to the River Orne crossings but such was the German reaction that the 23rd Hussars were only able to capture and hold the hill with difficulty.

The main attack on Hill 112 was strategically designed to FIX the German panzers and tactically to gain 'elbow room' in what was still a tight beachhead. The German defenders survived naval bombardment, air attack and artillery fire but held their ground, crucially supported by Tiger tanks from the 101st SS Heavy Panzer Battalion. These mighty tanks armed with the 88 mm gun had both greater protection and firepower and outclassed the opposing British Churchill tank and Sherman tank.

Even though the hill was not captured and was left as a no-man's-land between the two armies, important surrounding villages had been taken. Above all, however, the 9th Hohenstaufen SS Panzer Division, which had been in the process of moving out of the line to form an operational reserve, was brought back to contain the British. Therefore, on the strategic level Operation JUPITER was a significant success.

It was not until American troops eventually started to break out from the Normandy lodgement, as Operation Cobra developed momentum, in August 1944, that the Germans withdrew from Hill 112 and the 53rd Welsh Division occupied the feature, with barely a fight. Casualties during that period amounted to approximately 25,000 British troops and 500 British tanks.

Operations Bluecoat and Enterprise[edit]

A motorcycle and infantry of the 2nd Glasgow Highlanders, 46th Brigade, 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division, advance along a lane near Caumont, 30 July 1944.

Operation Bluecoat was an attack by the British 2nd Army in the Battle of Normandy,from 30 July 1944 to 7 August 1944. The objectives of the attack were to secure the key road junction of Vire and the high ground of Mont Pinçon. Strategically, the attack was made to support the American exploitation of their breakout on the western flank of the Normandy beachhead. Miles Dempsey was switched westward towards Villers-Bocage adjacent to the American army. Originally, Dempsey planned to attack on 2 August, but the speed of events on the American front forced him to advance the date.

Initially, only two weak German infantry divisions held the intended attack frontage, south and east of Caumont, although they had laid extensive minefields and constructed substantial defences. They also occupied ideal terrain for defence, the bocage.

They fought virtually continuously from then on through Caumont, the Seine Crossing, the Gheel Bridgehead, Best, Tilburg, Meijel, Blerwick, Broekhuizen, the Maas and across the Rhine.

Their particular distinction was to be selected to lead the last set piece river crossing of the war, the assault across the Elbe (Operation Enterprise) on 29 April 1945 spearheaded by Brigadier Derek Mills-Roberts 1st Commando Brigade, after which they fought on to the Baltic occupying both Lübeck and Kiel. They were the only division of the British Army during the Second World War to be involved in three of the six major European river assault crossings; the Seine, the Rhine and the Elbe.

On 10 April 1946 the 15th (Scottish) Infantry Division was finally disbanded. Its battle casualties – killed, wounded and missing – in twelve months of fighting were 11,772.

See also[edit]

Footnotes[edit]

  1. ^ McLeod, Toby. "Operation Epsom, Baron-sur-Odon and the Battle for Hill 112". WR2000: The Battle for Normandy 1944. Retrieved 2008-10-08. 
  2. ^ Ellis et al 1962, p. 277-297.

References[edit]

  • Ellis, Major L.F.; with Allen R.N., Captain G.R.G. Allen; Warhurst, Lieutenant-Colonel A.E. & Robb, Air Chief-Marshal Sir James (2004) [1st. pub. HMSO, 1962]. Butler, J.R.M, ed. Victory in the West, Volume I: The Battle of Normandy. History of the Second World War United Kingdom Military Series. Uckfield, East Sussex: Naval & Military Press Ltd. ISBN 1-84574-058-0. OCLC 276814706. 

External links[edit]